Peers and clients say:
"Patrick is one of the world’s leading experts on energy and gas disputes"
Patrick Hébréard is an experienced expert with 20 years of experience in the energy industry.
Patrick has been appointed as testifying expert in many complex and high-value arbitration proceedings in the energy sector in various regions across the world, working on large and complex cases where damages claimed exceeded $1 billion.
Patrick acts as quantum expert, valuing damages, and as energy industry expert providing opinion on industry practice and market standards regarding contracts and markets.
How do you stay up-to-date on the constantly-evolving energy industry trends and regulations across different regions of the world?
The energy industry has always been evolving, but the pace of its evolution and its transition in recent years has been spectacular.I have the opportunity to work as adviser on projects and contracts across the energy value chain (gas, LNG, renewables, conventional power…) in addition to my work as arbitration expert. This allows me to keep up with the market evolution, and to be up-to-speed with the market trends and commercial practices, including on new and upcoming energy fields such as hydrogen.
What qualities do you think are essential for success as an expert witness in the energy industry, and how have you developed or honed these qualities over the course of your career?
The main qualities for an expert witness in the energy industry are similar to the ones required from any expert witness: have experience in the field, be convincing, be reasonable, be able to consider the opposing side’s views, remain independent and be pedagogue.
The last is probably more important than in other industries as an expert witness in the energy industry needs to be able to explain complex issues, complex market dynamics and complex economic concepts in a simple and intelligible way.
I reckon that having first-hand experience would be an advantage in demonstrating knowledge and be considered as trustworthy.
Can you talk about a time when you had to provide expert testimony in a cross-cultural or multi-lingual setting, and how you adapted your approach to ensure effective communication?
Working in international arbitration, we are very much used to working in cross-cultural and multi-lingual environments. It is crucial for the expert to appreciate the cultural differences between the parties, the counsel and the tribunal and to adapt to them in order to deliver messages in the most efficient way.
Although it may seem contradictory, while adapting is key, it is equally important to stay true to yourself. There is probably no worse expert witness than the one who tries to play a role.
Can you discuss a particularly challenging arbitration proceeding you were involved in and how you navigated it as a testifying expert?
I cannot comment on a particular case, but it is rather common that we have issues in collecting data and information from the client. Most of the time, the data or information required is ultimately provided to us but late in the process. It can also happen that the data or information is not provided to us (either due to its unavailability or its highly sensitive nature), which would lead us to use assumptions or proxys. In such situations, the expert must detail and evidence the basis on which these assumptions or proxys are appropriate.
In your opinion, what are some key factors that contribute to successful outcomes in high-value arbitration proceedings in the energy sector?
The key factors for a successful outcomes is to have clear assumptions, which should be based on evidence to their reasonableness. It is crucial to provide comfort to the tribunal on the assumptions made. Another crucial point is to avoid deterministic assumptions. Energy markets are volatile and uncertain by definition, so I would recommend using scenarios or options for forecasts in order to give a range or different alternatives depending on how markets could be expected to evolve.
Can you speak to any notable changes or developments you've observed in the energy industry over the course of your career, and how these changes have impacted your work?
Energy markets have recently shown greater instability, volatility and uncertainty than ever before; the present is nothing like the past. We are in a world beyond the limits of the anticipated scenarios and not aligned anymore with the past. This market situation creates the need to consider an even wider range of possibilities. Considering that the energy transition will have a major impact on the energy mix in the decades to come, this creates an additional layer of complexity as one can be almost certain that the future would be significantly different to the past.
How do you see the role of expert witnesses evolving in the energy industry in the coming years, particularly in light of technological advancements?
In my opination, the role of the expert witness will remain the same as the arbitral proceedings would require the expert to be experienced, independent…. What would change are the energy fields where arbitrations will happen. We have observed in the past decade a high number of arbitration cases related to renewables due to their major development. If the hydrogen industry succeeds in its structuration and development, many arbitrations will happen there.
What do you enjoy most about working in the energy sector?
The energy sector is fascinating. I started my career at the time when energy markets were being liberalised in Europe. We have seen the emergence of renewables. We are now in the midst of an energy crisis while a major energy transition is required.
This is an ever-evolving and super exciting industry to work in. Energy is at the core of the global economy, making the related arbitrations in the sector challenging, with high stakes and high commercial and political sensitivity.